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Garlicki grabs the honours at Downhill Provincial

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Solid-Reverse Factory Racing Team’s Stefan Garlicki (sponsored by Investec) took the Elite Men’s title and fastest time of the day at the Helderberg Trails in Somerset West for the Western Cape Downhill Provincial on Wednesday.
The event  doubled as the first round of the South African National Cup Series, at the weekend.
With close to 100 riders competing, the great showing set the bar for the next three National Cups to come. Hot, dry weather made for fast and slippery movements on the course, which also made for surprising runs.
‘The conditions were tough as it was extremely hot and dusty. I don’t think I have ever ridden a track quite as loose and dusty as that anywhere around the globe,’ said Garlicki.
Garlicki said that he knew the track well and did not have to have too much time to practice beforehand. ‘I just tried to keep my race run mistake-free, which was no easy task on that track,’ he said.
In his seeding run, Garlicki noticed a few costly mistakes he had made and knew that if he could iron those out, he would have a good chance of being the fastest down the hill. ‘The key, I think, was just to keep a good flow and not over ride the course,’ he said.
‘I have been training hard over the past few months plus I did well there two weeks ago at the first WPMTB Provincial so I was confident that if I kept it on two wheels, I could take the win. However with riders like Johann Potgieter, Jono and Chris Philogene, Sam Bull and Adi Van Der Merwe there, I knew it would not be easy!’
Racing for the Solid-Reverse Factory Racing team in Europe, Garlicki says that  focus this season will be on all of the UCI World Cups and the once-off World Championship. ‘I will also be focusing on the African Continental Champs in Lesotho, as well as the SA Champs in Pietermaritzburg. I want to keep doing my best, having fun and hopefully keep climbing the ladder internationally,’ he added.
In the women’s race, Veteran downhiller Rika Olivier took the first place spot ahead of Sub Veteran Simone Futter and Junior rider Sabine Thies. ‘What a track!’ said Olivier. ‘I have to admit though that the top rock garden gave me the heebie jeebies. So much so, that I decided not to ride it and rather use the B-line. I like to call it a choice of experience, some might disagree,’ she added.
‘The rest was amazing, deep loose dust corners that the fast guys rode like shoulder high berms. I just pretended I was on a snowboard and kept the front light – it must have worked because I survived the weekend without face planting in the dust. Big thanks to the organisers, track builders and land owners,’ she concluded.
Event organiser, Pieter du Toit, said: ‘We had 98 entries with 85 riders obtaining a final result. The track was extremely loose and dusty and different with every run. What is extremely exciting is the number of new faces on the track, especially with the kids.’
Du Toit mentioned that in the Youth Men category alone, there were 11 finishers, not to mention the number of girls riding as well. ‘The number of riders in the kids’ categories is a confirmation that the sport is growing. The youngest rider, Ben Wolfson is only eight years old! I am very excited with the weekend’s results and in it proves that our hard work is paying off,’ he said.
Mother of four Downhill enthusiasts between the ages of eight and thirteen who took part in the competition, Tania Wolfson, said: ‘Quite frankly, I am filled with all sorts of emotions when my children take to the track. Admiration first – I have no idea how they find the courage to go down these tracks, let alone at speed (I don’t even like walking down them!). Pride in how they give of their best all the time and have such a positive attitude, and how they get up after each fall and try again. Joy at seeing them arrive at the finish line, dusty or muddy, with a grin on their faces, safe and in one piece. Fear – I know that it can go wrong so easily and pray that they will arrive safely at the bottom of the track.
‘There is nothing better than watching your children doing something they love, and so, as long as they have a passion for this sport, I will be their biggest fan and encourage them all the way.’
When chatting to her four children about the excitement of Downhill racing, Maximillian, Charlotte, Zachariah and Benjamin replied almost in unison: ‘It’s fun, you make great friends, it’s a wonderful community, it’s exhilarating, it makes you happy, it’s unique, everyone helps each other with advice on difficult sections, they are always encouraging, you get to visit great places and everyone is friendly.’

Picture of Garlicki in action, courtesy of Ewald Sadie

Summary of Results
Overall Men
1 Stefan Garlicki (Elite) 2min 53.277sec
2 Jonathan Philogene (Elite) 2:58.730
3 Johann Potgieter (Elite) 2:59.845
4 Theo Erlangsen (Elite) 3:00.487
5 Adi Van Der Merwe (Elite) 3:01.815
6 Samuel Bull (Elite) 3:06.310
7 Duran Van Eeden (Elite) 3:08.448
8 Dane Olsen (Elite) 3:12.378
9 Struan McMaster (Elite) 3:13.467
10 Cullen McMaster (Junior) 3:14.742

Overall Women
1 Rika Olivier (Vet Women) 3:50.924
2 Simone Futter (Sub Vet Women) 4:35.245
3 Sabine Thies (Junior Women) 4:59.846
4 Kathryn Fourie (Sub Vet Women) 5:08.882
5 Leigh Haskins (Vet Women) 5:45.726
6 Gabrielle Lanfear (Junior Women) 5:59.621
7 Charlotte Wolfson (Junior Women) 7:44.755


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